China bans LGBTQ+ material online, LGBTQ+ community finds a work around

by James Stout, San Diego, Ca

On the 39th of June, the China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) announced that it would be cracking down on what it called "abnormal sexual behaviour" in online videos. This definition of abnormality includes the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum as, despite a mountain of scientific and sociological evidence to the contrary, China's government seems to regard normal sexual behaviour to be limited to heterosexual vaginal sex between a man and a woman.

14 Jul, 2017

China, aside form North Korea, is perhaps the most censored nation on earth. Last year they banned LGBTQ+ characters in television and in June the even stamped down on gossip blogs. The Freedom House human rights group has called Chain "the worst abuser of internet freedom".

The attempt to erase LGBTQ+ stories from the media world of Chinese citizens will require online video outlets to employ professional censors who will be responsible for maintaining “correct political and aesthetic standards” . China has also banned the criticism of its leaders and the “conjuring of spirits”. The problem here seems to be that the government of china sees one’s sexuality as a political (or aesthetic) choice. It is not. However the very nature of totalitarian government is to attempt to make everything political and to exert control of everyday life. This is also, ultimately, where totalitarian government fails. It is impossible to legislate biology and genetic diversity. No more is it possible for China to stop LGBTQ+ people existing by banning their representations in the media than it is possible for them to stop it raining by only broadcasting shows with sunny days.

What is possible, and is happening, is a deepening of the existing discriminatory and divisive practices which are common towards LGBTQ+ people in China. Recent data suggests that only 15% of people in China who identify as gay have come out to their families and that, of those who have, more than half have encountered discrimination. China decriminalized same sex relations 20 years ago but they remained on the list of mental illnesses until 2001. There is evidence that conversion therapy is not unpopular.

It is so common in China to hide one’s sexuality from one’s family that There are around 16 million gay Chinese men married to women who are unaware of their husbands’ sexuality according to studies from Qingdao University. Such marriages are fraught with emotional dangers but remaining unmarried is also not a safe option and carries a sense of familial disappointment and social stigma. Increasing numbers of gay men and lesbians are now turning to each other for help. An app called “Queers” allows Gay men and Lesbian women to match up, marry and even have children whilst remaining in their loving same sex relationships. The app has 400,000 users, around half of whom are aged 25-35: the age when pressure to marry is most heavy.

What this tells us is that, as hard as the government and older generations might try, there is always a way that people who love each other will find a way to make it work. Obviously, nobody can read this page in China, but if they could I hope this would give them some hope.